September 23

Bienvenido! What? you say. Yes, a flat tire. This is guy #2 who mostly stood guard. Guy #1 came to meet me maybe 15 minutes late because, as you can see, his car broke down. So we three, I and guys #1 and #2 met at the car. #1 went back to the airport for help. He got a guy, guy #3, who had tools so they got out the spare and put it on.

But no, the spare had a bald spot so bad the metal belts were showing through. So guy #1 and guy #3 went off to find another tire. They returned with no tire. Guy #1 made himself known to me in Spanish that he needed to borrow 200 pesos for the tire.
So I gave him the 200 pesos and amused myself with photos reflected in the broken down car.
Hurray! Here's #1 and #3 after their successful acquisition of a tire that looks like it should be good for at least another few hundred miles.

Vamanos! We're off!!
I arrived at my home-stay only an hour or so late. Dinner was ready for me and we, I and the madre and the padre, sat out and enjoyed a lovely get acquainted time. A home-stay with people who really speak very very little English (or so they want me to believe) is going to move my Spanish forward for sure.

We ate rice, potato baked on the bbq, tortillas toasted on the bbq, and steak grilled on the bbq. And salsa. It was mighty tasty too. We drank fresh lemonade and then after we'd got cleaned up, we sat out with cervezas.
This is the view from my bedroom window and it is just as FABulous as it looks, and just like its picture.
Here we have a famous landmark of the city, El Pípila.

You'll see more about the big September 28 celebration and see photos of the parade. Here is a short story from LP:

‘…Then on September 28, 1810 a young miner named Juan José Martínez (aka El Pípila), under orders from Hidalgo, tied a stone slab to his back and, thus protected from Spanish bullets, set the gates ablaze. While the Spaniards choked on smoke, the rebels moved in and took the Alhóndiga, killing most of those inside.’
And now turning right and looking straight across from the patio of my house, is this...
...and looking left and down is This. Es una ciudad muy muy hermosa.
September 24

What we have here are the toilets at My School. That's right, there is one door to a room that contains two stalls, one stall marked with a boy shape and one marked with a girl shape. You can tell which is which by the location of the toilet seat.

I’ve just finished my first day of classes. The school wants you to take four and I thought I’d go with their recommendation to start. The earliest one (9AM!!) didn’t happen because of the registration process and testing. It’s going to be a grammar section.

The second class was conversation, 5 students total and it was fun especially because they were all just that much better than I was to make it challenging to even understand. Today’s topic was organ transplant. Tomorrow’s topic is religion. That should be fun.
...The third class was grammar, 5 students, and interesting too. We are looking at the pretérito-indefinido. That would be the plain old done-done past tense. Not that other past tense which we should be studying later.

The last class was again conversation, also 5 students (they’ve managed the absolute maximum for every class!) but this one had an amusing situation...two actually – two bored to tears leg bouncing eye rolling hair twirling gum cracking notebook doodling teenage girls. Pheww. All in all though, I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

Find the narrow alley leading past The Pink Church on the right and up that way is the school.
The food situation is shaking itself out. It turns out I have to go back to mi casa at 3:00 if I want to get any dinner there. It's a little too bad about this because the hills are Looong and Steeeep and if I want to do anything after school I'll have to walk down again and back up. Maybe I should make the appointment for my knee replacement surgery now?

Ahh, but I do love street food.
YUM! They take these grilled pockets and put various concoctions inside.
This is the dome in one of the seemingly thousands of churches, one per block, here in Guanajuato.

The school director reinforced how Guanajuato is a very conservative city and that is why there are no international restaurants and the food in general is not particularly varied or 'citified'. My second meal en mi casa was as starch heavy as the first without even the benefit of the steak!
Just outside the front door of the school, Michi (a school compatriot) and I are preparing for a brief guided tour of the city.

You can see the steeple of The Pink Church at the end of the lane. If I can find that church I can find the school and if I can find the school I can get back to mi casa. There are Literally No Maps with street names except for the major major roads.

There are many streets like this that are pedestrian only and the major roads with motor traffic are all one way.
Another church...
...and another one. I'll get the names in here soon!
It really is a lovely city.
There is a Romeo and Juliet story here and this is the lane where the homes of the two families met. It's called Callejón del Beso, the Alley of the Kiss

This is the woman who was our guide for the tour (she works at the school in the office) and her husband who is a guide with a tour company. We're chanting kisskiss and he Wants a kiss but she's saying oh-I-don't-think-so.
September 25

Students are gathered here outside the school waiting for the classes to begin. The classrooms are in two buildings across from the administration and 'gathering' building, all right on this no-traffic alley.
This doesn't tell the tale. This hike up and back from school to home and back is unBeLeavable. There are two routes, the mostly steps and the mostly ramps. This is the mostly ramps and the one I've used lately.

I have walked this walk, one way, 6 times, 3 round trips, and in truth, it is getting easier. It's probably a blessing in deep disguise.
Like I've been saying, it isn't cheap! That's about $12 for a manicure and $18 for a pedicure (or is it mani-pedi? I could ask).
This is my bedroom. There's a lot of floor space (it's bigger than my house which ok doesn't say much) with a desk and a closet. Yes, that representative light bulb is just hanging there. I think pretty soon your eye just stops noticing this stuff until you're someplace where the lights don't hang out of the ceiling.

The bathroom is just a few steps outside my door and on this level there is another bedroom with another guest, but I have never seen her. Ever. She is not a student and I don't know what her daily schedule is like.

I'll try and get a picture of the kitchen next because as always that's the hub of life en mi casa.
The Pink Church super tele-photo from my balcony, also know as My Church since it is the landmark you can see from anywhere in town and from there I can get anywhere I need to go.
I pass by many times a day and there is often a lot of action going on at My Church. This madrigal group was practising and it was gorgeous to hear.
The all time number 1 most perfect most incredible most fabulous hour in my day is this Salsa Class! That's right! I get the Teacher. If there were a heaven...

On Monday I stumbled on this class with two couples and the teacher and I just HAD to have it. So Tuesday I went. o.m.g.

Now it's Wednesday morning and I Can HARDLY WAIT until 6 when it will be time for More SALSA CLASS!
September 26

This is outside on the patio side of mi casa. They started painting this morning. It was one of the few creamy colored houses around and now we are Lavender Town GTO! (GTO=Guanajuato)
And this is the common room of mi escuela. Note, Laptop City GTO.

It is a lot of fun in here - literally Everyone is chatty and friendly with all the very best features of a hostel without any of the down sides.
La professora and two of my classmates in the 'good' conversation class (as compared to the class with las ninas...).
Back up the hill for lunch. Lordy. Take this, twirl it around into a spiral and add 9 more sections, and you've got my walk.
How buildings age in a colorful city.
This is one of the many theaters here and you can notice the two joining streets. So many of the streets are pedestrian only, which is excellent for walking, that the traffic streets are f.u.l.l.
The central plaza, El Jardin, is in a triangle shape with a bandstand and benches inside the triangle and restaurants, shops, and benchs on the outside. It is lovely!

I haven't mentioned yet the peaceful walking since I have been only 2 or 3 times approached by anyone asking money for anything. How pleasant. They say though that in the week after next, when the big world famous festival hits town all bets are off.
I'm guessing I'm not going to be so delighted with the festival since all the local people are dreading it. Drunk puking roudy youth will dominate the streets. Oh well, the performances are supposed to be exceptional.

The Teatro Juarez. Mighty gorgeous.
More street food. Here you can buy the corn on the cob slathered with mayo and sprinkled with salt and chili powder or you can get it in a cup off the cob with an entire thick layer of salt, a blob of mayo, and chili powder. YUM!
September 27

This is from my patio in the evening as the lights are coming on around town. Way cool! And from the patio outside my window. It stormed like crazy during the night - windows blowing open, doors slamming, and the sounds of destruction coming from outside.

But this morning all is well and the weather is again perfect, as it has been the whole time I've been here.
I was going to write today about how I am busy every single minute what with all the walking, the classes, hanging out (important of course), homework (!), photos and More.

But then instead today one teacher was sick, so that’s one hour free, and Michi and I CUT CLASS! We have the one together with las niñas. I’m so over it. Michi, we know, is a grown-up woman and can make her own choices…it’s not like I’m a bad-girl influence or anything…I just told her I was Cutting Class to go to the museum and she said OH YES Me TOOO.

First, Tamales!
This is the courtyard of the most famous museum in Guanajuato and the site of a major historical event (one of the many Independence Days) that is going to be celebrated throughout the entire city tomorrow with a giant parade, musicians, food stalls - the whole enchilada.
Inside the museum the staircases are painted with these giant Diego Rivera-like murals. The church, the occupiers, war and more war, all the major themes.
We both were crazy for these pre-Hispanic pots. There is a whole room devoted to them although not much is know of the culture that produced them.

80% have these faces molded in. All the faces are cute too, happy looking guys. That's pretty darn rare!
This reminded us both of our daily life getting to and from nos casas.
En mi casa! Yes, these children come here for the main meal around 3pm. Most of then are grandchildren but I haven't figured out exactly who is who.

Missing is Pepe who is around a lot too. He's a cute-as-pie teenager who helps me with my homework.
September 28

It's that big celebration I mentioned yesterday, and What a Parade. You can come and go from one spot, as I did, for more than 3 hours and still the river of parade would be passing by.

All the material in quotes I lifted straight from the Wiki.

"The city played a major role in the Mexican War of Independence since it is the capital of the State Guanajuato in which Miguel Hidalgo started the independence movement. The Statue of El Pípila and the Alhóndiga de Granaditas still remind of that time."
The girl with the flag is from a different picture but isn't she gorgeous? I hope she has wonderful dreams and high aspirations.

"By 1809 Hidalgo's sense of discontent was turning openly to revolutionary politics, and the possibility of a rising against the vice-regal government of what was then New Spain. He was joined by Ignacio Allende, a young officer from the nearby town of San Miguel, also a Creole, frustrated by the inherent chauvinism in the colonial administration, which preferred to advance immigrant Spaniards, rather than people born in Mexico, no matter how "pure" their blood. The fall of Ferdinand created a vacuum which Allende and other ambitious Creoles were determined to fill."
Los hombres. The parade was so HUGE because every organization from the whole state sent teams of marchers. Every school, every government department, every public service group, it just went on and ON.

"Early on the morning of Sunday September 16, 1810 Hidalgo and Allende received from Doña Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez ("La Corregidora" from Querétaro) a warning that the authorities had intelligence of the planned rising. Hidalgo's parishioners had been coming in from the surrounding countryside, expecting to hear mass; instead they heard a call to arms. As well as invoking the name of King Ferdinand and the Virgin of Guadalupe, he denounced the Gauchupines, a derogatory term for the Spanish-born overlords, specifically designed to appeal to an Indian audience."
This is the main plaza and the main cathedral.

"From Dolores, the rebel force moved on San Miguel, gathering support along the way like a rolling avalanche. In the process the movement began to be openly anti-Spanish rather than pro-Ferdinand, and Hidalgo dropped his own pretence to loyalism in favour of outright support for Mexican independence."
EVERY conCeivable organization had a presence and every conceivable conveyance. At one point the Red Cross took up half a mile of the street. Many of the walk streets were open for the parade.

My favorites were the National Park folks marching with shovels and rakes.

"So, what began as a conservative reaction turned into a popular, largely Indian, anti-colonial revolution. The army then moved on Guanajuato, the provincial capital, where Antonio Riano, the governor, attempted to organise a defense. But he was only able to assemble some 500 men, Creole and Spanish, against an Indian force now estimated at 20,000 strong. The town fell to onslaught on 28 September, during which many of the defenders were massacred."
You know, an army parading down the street evokes too many emotions, and none of them any fun at all, no matter what the circumstance, in what country or in what city you find yourself.

"The rebel army then moved south-east towards Mexico City, close to which General Felix Calleja had placed some 3000 cavalry and 600 infantry at the pass of Las Cruces. In the ensuing Battle of Las Cruces the tiny defending force faced 80,000 rebels. The Royalists managed to hold off the advance in two days of hard fighting, assisted by the fact that Hidalgo's men had scarcely any firearms. But in the end they were defeated by sheer weight of numbers, and 200 survivors of the battle fell back on Mexico City, now virtually defenseless."
And wow to all the costumed groups in celebration of Viva La Revolucion! They were clearly having the most fun.

"As he did not have confidence in the discipline of his newly recruited army and did not feel he could control looting or useless violence, Hidalgo did not press his advantage, and the rebels moved away from the capital, to the north-east in the direction of Valladolid, present-day Morelia, and from thence on to Guadalajara."
These fine folks are leaving Sunday after a stay of a few months, to get some Spanish before continuing their journey. We had a great class together and now they're gone and new students will take their place. Maybe I have an idea of how other people might have felt when I first arrived.

I haven't met anyone who is staying less than 2 weeks, most stay at least a month, and a good many stay even longer and I can surely see why.
The school offered a tour this afternoon and it was great fun. We drove on the Panoramic Road that circles the city, stopping at all the tourista spots along the way.

We could each pick out our routes to everywhere because the central city has such promonent and memorable landmarks.
Nick and Michi. Hola Nick, hola Michi!
And this is me and Guillermo. You probably won't recognize him, but this is Guy #1 from the airport trip! He's around the school all the time doing whatever needs doing and he especially likes to tease me about La Salsa.
Notice, Climbing Straight Up Hill. We did this, and a few more walks, missing the longer stops because I HAD to get back for salsa class.

Oh I am taken with this class. But I'll tell ya, I could barely make it home at the end of the day. I walked all through town twice, once to buy myself a pair of shoes for, can you guess, salsa class, and again with Michi who had some shopping to do, and we walked a lot during the tour, and then one none-stop hour of pouring sweat, and then back up the hill home. ps My clothes are not the least bit loose either. What's with That!?
The next two are for KAITLIN!

Hola Kaitlin! It's Granny here sending you Love and Kisses and Big Hugs from Mexico! I am standing in front of my school here.
I miss seeing you and I think about you Every Day. When I am back home in October we are going to have some good fun again! I hope you are feeling well and enjoying all your birthday presents!

Doesn't my hair look funny in the wind?! This is looking down into the whole city where I am staying. with LOVE from Granny
HomeMexico and the Caribbean • Mexico • '07 Sep: GUANAJUATO, México

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